Kentucky vs. Duke: Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (11/9/21)
Kentucky vs. Duke Betting Odds
The second game of the Champions Classic features two of college basketball’s Blue Bloods. John Calipari and the Wildcats prepare to play Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils.
Of course, neither of these teams looked like Blue Bloods last season. Both missed the NCAA Tournament.
The storyline of this season will be heavily influenced by Coach K’s impending retirement. After 40 years at the helm in Durham, Krzyzewski will step down after a hopefully successful season.
Coach K’s season-long goals start tonight, with a battle against a revamped Kentucky team.
The Blue Devils are currently laying 1.5 while the total sits at 148.5.
Kentucky Wildcats Odds
Kentucky flat-out stunk last season. It was an embarrassing performance for a perennial contender. Coach Cal wouldn’t take that, so he went out and made some significant changes.
The Wildcats were one of just six schools to add multiple five-star recruits, and Calipari dominated the transfer portal. Instead of snagging the one-and-dones as usual, Cal loaded up on veteran talent. Additions include:
- West Virginia’s Oscar Tshiebwe
- Georgia’s Sahvir Wheeler
- Davidson’s Kellan Grady
- Iowa’s CJ Frederick
Add those guys to returning starters Davion Mintz and Keion Brooks, Jr., and this is one of the most experienced groups Calipari has ever assembled in Lexington.
The overall goal: Increased playmaking, more reliable shooting, and better decision making.
Kentucky couldn’t score last year (193rd in scoring at 70.4 points per game), couldn’t shoot (177th in 3-point percentage at 33.5%), and were outscored by 63 points in the final four minutes of regulation.
The additions will help tremendously in all three areas.
Let’s not forget about the incoming freshman, most importantly TyTy Washington. The 6-3, 190 lbs. point guard provides size at the 1, as well as playmaking and pure scoring ability.
All in all, throw last year out. Hopefully, Calipari can get this team to play together instantly, because Kentucky still has Notre Dame, Ohio State, Louisville, and Mizzou on its non-conference schedule.
Duke Blue Devils Odds
The last year has been one of the craziest in memory for Blue Devil fans. An 11-11 regular season, followed by a withdrawal from postseason play because of a positive COVID test in the locker room, then followed by Coach K’s farewell announcement.
So, let’s look at some continuity.
Duke returns three starters, most importantly Wendell Moore Jr. The Blue Devils also brought in an influx of talent and are still nationally ranked in pre-season polls. Plus, Duke is still the betting favorite in the ACC.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
But can Coach K pull this team together? Freshman Paolo Banchero is an elite forward that will make the biggest impact. A 6-foot-11, 250 lbs. athletic freak who averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds in his senior year in Seattle while showing promise from range.
But while he can stretch the floor, most of his Banchero’s impact will come on the interior. And Duke lost its two best 3-point shooters from last season (Matthew Hurt, DJ Steward) after shooting less than 35% from deep last season.
Like Kentucky, throw last season out. There is lots of upside for the Blue Devils, but Coach K must build chemistry ASAP while dealing with his retirement tour.
Prediction and Pick
My Pick: Duke Blue Devils ML (-115 at PointsBet)
This game is so hard to handicap. Both teams were unexpectedly horrific last year, and both rosters have gone through so much turnover.
So, I’m taking the team with less turnover.
Calipari returned just one starter from last season, and this season’s success will depend almost entirely on his four veteran transfers. Meanwhile, Coach K returned three starters, and I’m hoping Banchero has a big-time debut.
Moreover, Duke has to be fired up for this game. I hate to make betting decisions based on narratives, but Duke’s roster surely wants to get Coach K an opening night, Madison Square Garden win in his final season.
This game is going to be incredibly close, and I don’t feel super comfortable taking -1.5. If you line shop enough, you should be able to find Duke’s ML at under -120, the threshold at which I feel comfortable betting the Blue Devils.